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Joint committee fastest route to get Land Bill through, says Jaitley

Having being forced to refer the contentious land acquisition bill to a Parliamentary panel, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said a Joint Committee of Parliament is the fastest route to getting the changes approved.

The government, which had promulgated ordinance twice since December to make it easier to acquire land for infrastructure and rural projects as well as industrial corridors, on Tuesday agreed to a 30-member panel examining the amendments after allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal joined opposition in Lok Sabha to oppose it. The Committee is expected to give its report on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 on the first day of the next session.

“The roadmap that we have now developed of sending it to the Joint Committee ...is probably the fastest route to <g data-gr-id="31">get</g> the land bill through,” Jaitley said, adding that the government was open to accepting “good suggestions” of the panel.

On whether the government was open to a Joint Session of Parliament to get the land acquisition bill approved, the Minister said, “we are ready for all options.” 

However, he added, “having experimented various dialogues with the regional parties and the other opposition parties I think the Joint Committee will be the first route possible.” 

Although Jaitley described the recently-ended Budget session Parliament “a productive session”, he took a dig at the opposition for stalling bills in the Rajya Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA is in a minority, had also forced the government to refer the Constitutional <g data-gr-id="30">Amendment Bill</g> to roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the Select Committee for scrutiny. The Bill was earlier approved by the Lok Sabha. .

Observing that he could not blame the entire opposition for delaying the GST, Jaitley said, “there are certainly some elements in the opposition which feel it will be a positive for them if through obstructionism they could slow down India. Regrettably they can’t.” 

Several parties, he said, favour implementation of the GST, which seeks to introduce a uniform tax regime throughout the country by subsuming central excise, service tax and local levies.

Referring to acrimony in the Rajya Sabha over whether a bill is money bill or not, Jaitley said, “they (Rajya Sabha MPs) raise these questions, but when I read to them Article 110 of Constitution, they have no reply.
M Post Bureau

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